The Original Mac OS Interface Icons

Posted Tuesday, 13 March 2007 by Gudmund in Icon of the week
For anyone who's been using a Mac for a few years, this week's design icon will be well known. Some of you probably hoped that you would never have to see the ominous 'Mac-bomb' ever again, while others may sense a slight tingle of interface icon nostalgia (to coin a phrase).
Many of the graphic elements for the original Mac operating system, including icons and fonts, where developed by designer Susan Kare prior to the launch of the first Macintosh computer in 1984. The Macintosh introduced one of the first complex and widely used, entirely graphic, user interfaces. Kare's work has therefore had a profound impact on the iconography used in graphic user interfaces ever since. Many of the symbol concepts Kare developed to illustrate various functions, such as the trash can, the paintbucket and numerous others, can still be seen in countless incarnations and variations.

A selection of Susan Kare's original Mac icons

The original icons were created within a 32x32 pixel, black and white grid, and really represent information design in its purest and most stripped-down form. As the Mac operating system developed, many of the icons evolved too, elements such as the folder and trash can icons gradually got a more three-dimensional form, shading and perspective. Even so, it was only with the introduction of OS X that we saw a radical departure from the original icons.

We recommend a visit to Susan Kare's website for more examples of her work. For more detail, Computer Arts magazine have published an article about Kare and her development of the Mac Icons.

Don't forget to check out the online shop at, for a chance to purchase your very own 'mac bomb' t-shirt, directly from 'the mother of Mac icons' herself. 

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By Respiro, the logo designer on Thursday, 22 March 2007 6:50 PM
These of icons are "love or hate them" type ones, depending by the acceptance/non-acceptance of the non-rounded corners. Definitely, Mrs. Kare's portfolio is impressive.


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